Miami University President Greg Crawford named Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine the Spring 2020 Commencement speaker. DeWine is a 1969 Miami graduate who was elected as Ohio’s governor in 2018.
“Miami is very fortunate that we can draw commencement speakers from a body of distinguished alumni,” said Claire Wagner, director of university news and communications. “When you look at [DeWine’s] long record of public service, that is hard to match by anybody, so we think that in drawing from his local service, his state service, [and] his federal position, he’ll be able to provide an inspirational message.”
Typically, the commencement speaker is chosen by a committee led by Ted Pickerill, secretary to the Board of Trustees and executive assistant to the president. The committee also includes the president's executive cabinet and student leaders. The university knew it wanted DeWine as a commencement speaker once he was elected as governor, so this year, the committee wasn't used, and students weren't involved in the decision, Wagner said.
DeWine is a career politician, having served as a U.S. senator from 1995-2007 and Ohio attorney general from 2011-2019. He has also held roles as lieutenant governor of Ohio and U.S. Representative.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Miami and has periodically returned to the university to teach government courses. DeWine’s wife, four of his children and four of his grandchildren also attended or are currently attending the university.
Miami’s College Republicans (CRs) are pleased with the university’s decision, Collin Finn, director of communications for the CRs, wrote in a statement to The Miami Student.
“The university couldn’t have made a better choice,” Finn wrote. “Miami University has always been important to Governor DeWine, and we are glad that he is taking this opportunity to give back to his alma mater.”
But not all Miami students respect the university’s choice to give DeWine a platform during commencement.
“It’s unfortunate that such a joyous and happy day is going to be reduced with Mike DeWine’s presence given his lack of respect for women and their right to choose, given his complete inaction and disregard for the lives of Ohioans,” said Omar Elghazawi, head of communications for Miami’s College Democrats.
“It’s just a shame that Miami chose to make such a great event political and degraded it for absolutely no reason other than to appease someone who is giving us money,” he added.
This article has been updated to include information about who chooses the commencement speakers.